While working as a barista at the Drake West Village Starbucks, Abby Kauffman met Jordan Lill, and did not know that 15 months later the pair would soon be married and ready to discuss the idea of starting a family. The only question they had was how they should raise their children – with religion or without.
Neither Kauffman nor Lill is affiliated with a religion, but both were baptized, and they plan to do the same for their children. Even though they do not believe in a higher being, they still find it necessary to baptize their children. Kauffman said their parents are enforcing religion upon their children, but the couple agrees it has importance.
“This way when the children grow up and choose to believe in something, they’ll already be baptized,” Kauffman said.
Many college students can relate to Kauffman and Lill’s situation.
In a survey, 103 students, ages 18-23, at Drake University and across the country were asked about the importance of religion in a relationship and whether religion is waning. Although this was not statistically reliable, inferences can be drawn from the answers.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents answered that religion is important in a relationship and 63 percent said that religion is not dying.
Junior Erika Owen said she is a Buddhist along with her boyfriend, Kyle McKinney. Owen considers religion an important factor in relationships.
“There are so many more things we can do together — meditate, visit Shambhala centers, read related books and discuss them,” Owen said. “It’s awesome.”
Beth Kosters, an alumna of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, said she has a strong, Christian faith, especially when it comes to relationships.
“Religion is a personal relationship with God,” Kosters said. “He gives us the ultimate example of love and is the reason we are able to love others.”
In 2008, the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) released a survey that said 15 percent of Americans ages 18 and older classify themselves as having no religion. This number is greater than the number of those affiliated with every religious group except Catholics and Baptists.
Because the U.S. Census Bureau does not ask about religion, ARIS was the first comprehensive study of how people classify their religious affiliation.
Trisha Wheelock, professor of religion at Drake, said that religion may not be dying, but the church is not adapting to a society that has changed.
“One hundred years ago a social outing was going to church,” Wheelock said. “There are now so many social opportunities in a community.”
Junior Zac Pace agrees that the cause of a change in beliefs is due to changes in society.
“Religion isn’t dying,” Pace said. “But as society progresses all facets of life are being analyzed.”
Even though society may be changing, why is the church not changing with it?
Many students in the survey said that organized religion is not as appealing as it used to be. These students said that many lose their religious beliefs in college because they are able to choose what they want to believe, not what their parents believe.
Junior Kate Recca believes that religion will always have a place in society because of its history.
“People are always falling out of religion, but many people are falling in as well,” Recca said.
Iowa State University junior Morgan Gradert said that many people put religion on the back burner when it comes to everyday life, especially those in college.
“It’s really important to step back and think about the bigger picture,” Gradert said. “That is what society is losing ground on.”
What are people at Drake saying about religion?
Kyle Glaser: “My relationship with that person is based on my relationship with God. My goal is to have that person help me be closer to God.”
Morgan Woodrow: “Many morals come from one’s religious beliefs, which may make people attracted to certain people based on synchronized morals.”
Matthew Winkler: ”Religion may be unpopular and frowned upon in places like college, but in the real world, it’s alive and well.”
Stephanie Niewohner: “Religion in general is not dying out; however, religion on campus can easily be tested.”
Bre Hess: “When it comes to marriage and raising a family, it’s important for children to understand all aspects of religions and people’s views of the matter, especially if the parents have different views.”
Eric Hall: “The more religion is important to the individual, the more it is important to the relationship.”
Bobby Starace: “Many of the practitioners of religions are persecutive of their own brethren. Why would one want to be religious if one can’t be accepted in a group of their similar peers?”